Publication: Beanstalk Mums
Do you feel like paying for childcare in Australia is like your morning coffee – you want it, you need it, you appreciate it but (ugh) do you pay for it?
Kara Smyth from Nurch Childcare Loyalty Rewards has over 15 years experience in the industry. She shares with us some tricky and valuable secrets on how you can save thousands on your childcare fees.
With Australian childcare rates ranging anywhere from $90 to $200+, per child, per day – it’s safe to say everyone needs to (or would love to) save on childcare fees when and where you can. Most families are paying $15,000 or more per child a year in gap fees. That figure rivals private school fees.
What I am going to provide you is my insider knowledge to ensure you are getting the best deal. These are practical tips that can be applied at EVERY childcare centre; And, the best part – you don’t need to compromise on your preferred educational facility or location. It isn’t about the ‘cheapest’ childcare, it’s about getting the best value for the money you invest into your child’s early learning journey.
1. CHILDCARE SUBSIDY
If you want to get the best deal out of your childcare, then you need to understand where you sit on the child care subsidy family income test, including eligible activity level and available sessional hours. A few things to consider are:
Family income test
Your family income test is your taxable income amount and it dictates how much subsidy the government pays. The government is prepared to pay up to 85% of your fee. so be sure to speak with an accountant to ensure you are making all the taxable deductions available to you.
Account for all eligible activities
You need to be sure you are accounting for ALL of the eligible activities you do. Please visit this link HERE to ensure you are accounting for all paid, unpaid, study and business ventures. If you want to get the best deal, you need to get approved for the maximum hours available to you.
Understand the difference between the daily fees and sessional fees
Ensure you understand the difference between the daily fees and sessional fees. If a centre is open for 12 hours, then you would be best off booking the 12 hour session even if you only use 7 hours. Generally, the sessional hours aren’t cheaper and your government subsidy will be capped at an hourly rate. This means you will pay more and get less subsidy.
Avoid going over your sessional hours of care
If you can, do not go over your sessional hours of care. Most full-time working families can be approved for 100 hours of care per fortnight.
What that equals to is 4 full days of care. What that means is that 5th day is VERY expensive, no matter which way you divide up your hours of care. If you have to take the 5th day then do so on a casual basis and make it a Monday. Keep reading to find out why!
2. DAYS BOOKED
In order to get the best deal, you need to be quick to sign up to your local centre because families are onto this trick. It pays to read the fine print at your centre but most centres charge full fees for public holidays. Avoid Monday bookings because there are around 6 public holidays on a Monday. A tip is to only pick up a Monday casually if you can and utilise family on that day. Avoiding a Monday can save anywhere from $540 – $1200 in fees a year depending on your daily rate.
If childcare fees range from $90 – $200, then you can bet that inclusions are also just as varied. I have a few non-negotiable inclusions when looking for care, and they are food, wipes and nappies. These are a no-brainer and reduce your weekly grocery shop – not to mention the time it takes to pack these items (or avoid the frustrating moments when Daddy packs the bag and has forgotten to replenish them!).
If you have tried to make that early meeting, and missed it, then you understand your time is invaluable. Other nice things to have included weekly activity classes like gardening, cooking and yoga are included at Imagine Childcare centres . Let’s not forget about your morning coffee for free at any of the Imagine Childcare centres too. Personally, I have paid $10 for a weekly class on top of my childcare fees for that day. A coffee is $5 each so it all adds up!
A new value add is Nurch Childcare Loyalty Rewards. Families earn 1 point for every $1 they spend on childcare. You only need 300 points to get a $10 digital gift card at your favourite australian retailer too. If the average spend on childcare is $15,000 a year, then that is over $500 a year. Each and every year. The best part is that you actually earn more back when you stay enrolled for longer with the loyalty member bonus points. To join Nurch, you need to enrol at a partner centre or your centre needs to partner with Nurch to offer it to you. Find a Nurch partner centre HERE
On that note, as you can see it’s very easy to save thousands on your childcare fees over the lifetime of your childcare journey if you apply a few practical tips.